A Scottish Labour MSP has called on Holyrood to recognise the growing problem of anti-Catholicism in Scotland.
Elaine Smith’s remarks followed a government report which said that Catholics are the victims of 57 per cent of all religiously aggravated offences reported in Scotland.
The MSP raised the subject in the Scottish Parliament last week, after an incident in which a church near Glasgow was vandalised and the Blessed Sacrament desecrated.
She noted that not only are Catholics now the victims of more hate crime than all other religious groups in Scotland combined, but that this is also a growing trend (a 14 per cent increase in one year).
Mrs Smith called on the SNP government to “go out to the Catholic population and listen to their concerns”, adding that while Islamophobia and anti-Semitism have prominent places in public debate, the same cannot be said of anti-Catholicism.
Speaking on behalf of the government, the SNP’s Annabelle Ewing emphasised the existing commitment to tackling such crimes, saying that £13 million had been invested since 2012 to tackle sectarianism.
In response, Mrs Smith quoted Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow, who has said: “Our problem is not so much sectarianism but anti-Catholicism”.
One widely-reported example of a hate crime was in 2016, when a Jesuit school in Glasgow was sprayed with graffiti directed at Catholic descendants of Irish immigrants. It read: “The famine’s over! It’s time to go home.”
Last year Anthony Horan, director of the bishops’ Catholic Parliamentary Office, told a parliamentary committee: “My overriding concern is the culture of fear that runs right through society and which makes people feel at best uncomfortable and at worst totally frightened to be open about their faith.”
London Irish march for unborn
Irish pro-lifers turned out for St Patrick’s Day in London on Sunday, ahead of May’s referendum on the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution. The amendment recognises the unborn child’s right to life.
29-year-old Rebecca joined the London Irish United for Life march, saying: “I’ve never been active with the movement that much at home, but I felt with the referendum getting closer I had to do something.”